Coaching dream team inspiring new breed
THE arrival of Ricky Ponting in Australian camp has boosted the already high levels of confidence in the one-day squad which will look to pour more pain in to an England outfit reeling from a historic loss to Scotland.
Ponting has launched himself in to his assistant coach role, after being called upon by new coach Justin Langer to help guide the inexperienced one-day side through the five game series against the world's number one team.
Spinner Ashton Agar, who has been anointed by Langer as the main slow bowler ahead of Test star Nathan Lyon, said the combination of two Australian legends was already working wonders for a team which won both its warm-up matches going in to Wednesday's series opener at The Oval.
"It's awesome, you have Justin Langer as coach and Ricky Ponting around as well …. we are really proud to have them there and it's an absolute privilege for us," Agar said on Monday.
"Two legends of the game and Australian cricket and everyone just wants to hear Punter speak, it's the same with JL, we can't get enough of them."
The local media has portrayed the Aussie squad, minus suspended stars Steve Smith and David Warner as well as first-choice bowlers Micthell Starc and Pat Cummins as a weak unit.
Experience may be absent but Agar, who has only played four ODIs himself, said the enthusiasm of a fresh crew of players, all looking to cement their spot in Langer's World Cup plans, helped mitigate any losses.
"Everyone is saying it's a new era of Australian cricket and you could look at it that way. But we just have a nice refreshed feeling in the group," Agar said.
"We do have a really versatile squad, an injection of youth which is helpful, a lot of energy and some players who are really believing in themselves at the moment."
Maybe more than the English side too, which was humbled by the Scots for the first time in history, and Agar said the Aussies, with two warm-up wins, albeit against modest opposition, would hit the series with momentum their opponents don't have.
"It's about momentum coming in to these series and to have played a couple of games and got a couple of wins is great for us. It's good England didn't win because it's nice to start off with a win," he said.
"At the end, they didn't really finish the job."
Agar took the confident boost which came from Langer anointing him as the number one spinner ahead of Lyon, which came in similar circumstances to the left-armers famous Test debut.
Aged just 19, Agar was preferred ahead of Lyon for the opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2013, and made 98 with the bat, the highest score by any number 11.
Now 24, Agar said he was a much more advanced cricketer, but also took every opportunity to learn from Lyon, the Test star with 300 career wickets.
"It's only a positive having him at training and I still look up to the way he bowls even though I may be ahead of him for this game,' Agar said.
"He's got the best stock ball in the world, and it's impressive to watch him in the nets. I am learning from him every day."